Task force to prioritize COA, media reports in corruption probe

Task force to prioritize COA, media reports in corruption probe

DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar. (File photo)

MANILA – The mega task force against corruption would prioritize audit reports from the Commission on Audit (COA) and past media reports before launching a government-wide investigation on corruption allegations.

In a Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday, Justice Undersecretary and spokesperson Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said Secretary Menardo Guevarra has given a directive for the mega task force’s secretariat to convene immediately.

“We would also prioritize the examination of existing COA reports and look into investigative pieces reported by the media in the past regarding corruption allegations. These are the first things to be looked into by the task force’s secretariat and operations center so we would determine what allegations should we prioritize,” she said.

Aglipay-Villar reiterated that aside from COA, other independent constitutional bodies such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) are helping the task force.

“It is better if all agencies are working against corruption. (Through working together), it would expedite the gathering of evidence and the filing of cases,” she said.

Aglipay-Villar added that the secretariat of the mega task force against corruption would meet on Wednesday to determine the mechanism on how to receive tips from the public and the process on how to separate complaints that need to be investigated from those without basis.

She also assured that citizens who would turn whistleblowers in the government-wide corruption investigation would be secured under the witness protection program.

“The public may submit tips on illegal acts. If they have personal knowledge meaning they personally saw or heard they may be witnesses if the cases reach the court. If they are afraid of retribution, the DOJ (Department of Justice) witness protection program will protect them. The DOJ will not let them down,” she said.

Aglipay-Villar, meanwhile, reiterated that her role would only be limited to being the task force’s spokesperson.

“I would not be a part of any investigating panel, especially the investigating panel that would handle the Department of Public Works and Highways. But if there would be questions on DPWH, another official would speak for that once the investigation pushes through,” said Aglipay-Villar, wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.

She added said the task force would investigate corruption in all government offices, including the judiciary and legislative branches.

“They are not exempt and cases will be filed when warranted,” she said. (PNA)

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